Creative arts students at Southern Institute of Technology (SIT), are buzzing with excitement; they’re just a few days away from the cameras rolling on a short film, which has been adapted from an award-winning story by a local author. The project highlights the incredible range of creative talent in the south, and instigates the translation of the story into another medium to take it to a far wider audience.
The short film which will be about five minutes in length when completed, is based on an award- winning short story called ‘The Fort’ (2019), written by local author, Marolyn Diver-Dudfield.
Steve Woller, Programme Manager – SIT2LRN Arts and Education, said the project was initiated through his connection with the author, Ms Diver-Dudfield, who organises a writers group and of which Mr Woller is a long-time member. From first reading, he knew the story needed to be made into a movie.
“When she brought the story to the group, everyone thought it would make a great short film, because of its visual nature. It contains a powerful message, it’s a big story but can be delivered in a small format”.
“We knew it was a good story when we read it, and when it won the Dan Davin award, we knew we had to adapt it for the big screen”, he said.
Mr Woller who has written the screenplay, says the story is told through a child’s eyes, and is a serious story told in a fun, but poignant way. In the film, he said the child’s world will seem more important than reality, adding “It’s a little bit like a short version of Life is Beautiful (1997) but without the war”.
Mr Woller said it’s fantastic to have local funding and support for the project. The Invercargill Licensing Trust (ILT) and Community Trust South, have both been tremendously supportive.
“They’re really awesome to deal with, they gave me great feedback to help with the application process. We (the filmmaking team) had some trepidation, as the story is not entirely sunshine and rainbows, but they recognised we’re telling a story with a universal message that all people can relate to”.
SIT is also sponsoring the project with in-kind services and equipment use. The collaborative approach utilised by SIT incorporates as much local creative talent as possible, for the enrichment of the southern community as a whole.
Mr Woller said they’re hoping to use it as a vehicle for further funding and larger projects, as well as to help build and give experience to the local screen production community.
“It’s showcasing lots of different levels of talent in Southland” he said. “We’re also using a number of SIT students as interns in almost all departments”.
They will be mixing animation with live action in making the film. This creates a steep learning curve and the opportunity to involve another class of SIT students in the production. Animation tutors and students were invested in the project with creating and planning well underway.
“I’ve never done it before and it will certainly keep us on our creative toes, the more elements there are to work with, the more complex it is fitting it altogether”, said Mr Woller.
“I’m really honoured that Steve and his awesome team are doing it. He consulted me when he was writing the script – I could see he was passionate and had vision for it. No-one else could’ve done it better.” she said.
She draws her inspiration for writing from life around her and feels there’s an untapped potential here in Southland for telling stories about this tight-woven community. The people here are different. It also helps there’s good quality writers’ groups too.
“I don’t think I could’ve been as inspired anywhere else for this story, as I have been here”, she said.